Uncover some of the region’s greatest treasures, from secluded islands and lesser-known beaches to urban hot spots and new places to dine out. Check out our Facebook page each week for a new hidden gem.
Mokoroa Falls, Te Henga – Bethells Regional Park
Fresh air, native forest and one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Auckland region – sound good? Head to Auckland’s beautiful west coast and enjoy the easy 30-minute walk along the Mokoroa Falls Track to the viewing platform. You’ll actually see two cascades, a beautiful scene sure to impress your friends, family or a date.
From here you can also make your way down the steps to the stream below (take care as it can be slippery), or for a longer 4-5 hour loop walk, follow the Mokoroa Stream Track.
See track maps and information here.
*It is advised to stay well away from the bottom of the waterfalls due to rock falls in 2014.
Omanawanui Track & Whatipu Regional Park
Discover for yourself why Justin Timberlake had to share his pics of this stunning spot with the world. Sitting at the southern tip of the Waitakere Ranges on Auckland’s rugged west coast, Whatipu is a dramatic combination of wetlands, sand dunes, rocky cliffs and an expansive black-sand beach. There are several wonderful walking trails, including the 30-minute track from the beach’s car park to the old sea caves at the base of the cliff. The Omanawanui Track, just over two hours long, offers stunning views over Manukau Heads and out to the Tasman Sea. Take the one-hour drive from downtown Auckland and stop at the Huia Foodstore, or venture out on a guided tour.
See track maps and information here.
Awhitu Peninsula is only an hour from downtown Auckland, but its vast panoramas across wild, black-sand beaches and coastal cliff-top roads make it a true escape. Take an impressively scenic drive to the Manukau Heads Lighthouse, one of the few lighthouses in New Zealand open to the public. Stop off at Awhitu Regional Park on the way back for a short walk or a swim at one of the sheltered beaches on the eastern side of the peninsula, or blow the cobwebs out at the wild black-sand beach of Kariotahi on the western side. On the last Sunday of every month you can also stop in at the Awhitu Country Markets to pick up fresh organic produce, oils, preserves and more.
Hunua Regional Park
The largest forest in the Auckland region, Hunua Regional Park is full of natural wonders, native wildlife, gushing waterfalls and tranquil streams. Less than an hour’s drive from the city centre you can escape to serene walking and biking tracks (varying in grade and duration) and the spectacular Hunua Falls. Make a day trip of it and stop in at Clevedon for lunch or visit the farmers market on Sunday mornings for delicious fresh produce.
If you feel like a change of scene from the city, the sand-based pine forest of Woodhill is a great place to stretch your legs. Rug up and take one of the family-friendly walking trails, hire a mountain bike and tackle some of Auckland’s best biking tracks or swing through treetops at a tree adventure park. Make a day of it and explore the area nearby – visit the dramatic rugged coastline of Muriwai Beach, take a dip in the hot pools at Parakai Springs or indulge in the food and wine offerings throughout the Kumeu region.
The Pah Homestead, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre
Slightly hidden in the central Auckland suburb of Hillsborough, the The Pah Homestead, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre is a beautiful place to escape for a few hours. Set in a historic homestead built in 1877 (and the largest house in the Auckland province at the time), the building was restored in 2010 by the Council as the new home of the James Wallace Arts Trust and its Collection. Wander the rooms to discover the remarkable collection of over 8000 artworks including outdoor sculptures, then stop in at the café for coffee or lunch on the verandah or take a stroll in the surrounding Monte Cecilia Park.
Tiritiri Matangi Island
Tiritiri Matangi Island is an open wildlife sanctuary in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, and is a protected haven for native and endangered species. The island is a nature lover’s paradise, particularly for avid birdwatchers. As well as the wildlife and beautiful birdsong, the scenery is stunning with walking tracks, a beach perfect for swimming and a historical lighthouse. ‘Tiri’ is one of Auckland’s pest-free ‘Treasure Islands’, catch the ferry from downtown Auckland and if you’re a first-time visitor, join a guided tour to discover the thriving wildlife.
Maraetai and Omana Regional Park
Head south of the city to the stunning Pohutukawa Coast to see beautiful beaches and rural regional parks. On a sunny day, Maraetai is the perfect place to relax at the beach and jump off the wharf into the clear blue waters. Travel a little further along the coast to escape the crowds at Magazine Bay, a picturesque spot perfect for fishing. Grab a bite to eat or an ice cream at one of the cafés and then wander around Omana Regional Park to spot farm animals, with opportunities to feed the cute baby lambs.
Take a drive out to Te Henga (Bethells Beach), one of the most popular surf beaches on Auckland’s west coast, but mix it up with a walk over the huge sand dunes to Lake Wainamu. The stretching sand dunes are perfect to slide down (if the black sand isn’t too hot on a summer day), and once you’re at the lake you can enjoy a picnic and sheltered swimming if you’re not keen to brave the wild waves at Te Henga. It’s an easy walk from the beach’s car park to the lake, either over the dunes along the marked track or following the winding Waiti Stream, which is shallow enough for the kids to play in as you walk.
Tapapakanga Regional Park
This coastal park in East Auckland offers history, beach front camping, BBQs, a historic homestead, farm animals and stunning scenery. Tapapakanga is a working coastal farm as well as a regional park – one minute you’ll see rare coastal birds and the next you could be walking past farm animals. Swim or kayak at the sheltered white sand beach and stretch your legs while you explore the many walking tracks. Find out more about booking the camping facilities here, otherwise get together for a day trip and a picnic with family or friends.
This stunning island has only recently been opened to the public for the first time in 100 years. Just over an hour by ferry from downtown Auckland you can discover Rotoroa’s natural treasures including spectacular golden beaches, walks and scenery – plus some wildlife spotting (kiwi, takahe, skinks and other native species have been released on the island). In addition to this is the island’s captivating history. In 1911 the Salvation Army opened Rotoroa as a rehabilitation centre for addiction and you can still visit the old chapel, jail house and school house as well as the exhibition centre and museum.